Forget Your Hospital Bag? How to Use Items in the Room to Find Comfort in Labor

It might sound like your worst labor prep nightmare: you're [finally] in labor and you arrive at the hospital only to realize that you've forgotten your precious labor and birth hospital bag! You know, the bag you spent countless hours thinking about and prepping for, the same bag that you added two last essential items in just last night... yeah, that bag. But hold on! There's no need to freak out! As it turns out, there are plenty of everyday items accessible in your hospital room (or at the very least, in the building) that can replace many of the items you would pack in your hospital bag.

Hospital BagRice Sock/Heating Pad: Hospital washcloths soaked in hot water from the tap. Add a few to a hospital emesis (vomit) bag and you've got an in-a-pinch DIY rice sock (just don't heat the bag in the microwave!). Some hospitals also have instant hot packs. Great for lower back pain. If you're seeking ice instead of heat, you can fill the bag with ice from the station down the hall.

Massage tools: Hands! All the fancy massage tools in the world cannot replace the warmth and comfort of someone's hands.

Hair ties: Ask the nurse for a good-ole-fashioned rubber band from the nurse's station.

Water bottle: Cups, water and ice are always available for your use in the hospital.

Massage oil/lotion: If the hospital is unable to offer travel size lotion, the gift shop will likely have it available for sale. You can also ask nurses for vaseline or ultrasound jelly, both of which will double for massage oil.

Nourishment: Vending machines! While the products may not be ideal, you can at least find some things, like sports drinks, crackers with peanut butter, hard candy, gum, and mints that will provide useful sustenance, ease nausea, or provide a quick sugar fix during labor.

Rebozo: A hospital sheet doubles perfectly as a rebozo, which is a great tool to use for massage techniques like the double hip squeeze, and assisting with positions like squatting and for pushing.

Battery operated candles: Hospital room lights are usually operated by multiple switches that control different areas of the room. You can turn on the sink area lights while the rest can remain off, giving a soft glow (like candles) instead of glaring fluorescent light.

Your favorite birth book: Have a smart phone, tablet or laptop handy? Find labor tips and reminders at your fingertips through great sites like Childbirth Connection, Lamaze, or Evidence Based Birth.

Birth plan: Well in advance of your birth, make sure the person(s) accompanying you to birth are aware of your preferences for birth. While you are in labor, and sometimes unable to communicate clearly, their voice will be helpful in expressing your birth preferences to staff members.

A special labor gown/outfit: You can opt to wear the hospital gown, your bra and underwear, or nothing at all! Many women start out fully dressed in the beginning of labor, but it's not uncommon to be nude later on and during birth.

Toiletries: Many hospitals have travel size toiletries, like toothbrush and toothpaste available for patients, but if not, the hospital gift shop will sell them. 

Was there something in your hospital room that you used in place of an item in your labor bag? Tell us! 

photo credit: : rebecca : via photopin cc

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